(In theaters Friday)
After Earth is a strange beast. It’s following on the heels of fellow post-apocalyptic sci-fi flick Oblivion, but the trailers haven’t been nearly as enticing as that movie’s. It stars Will Smith, a certified big-time Movie Star, but also his son Jaden, and if much of the movie hangs on Jaden’s shoulders, this could easily go either way. The premise of two people stranded on a far-future, extremely hostile post-human Earth has potential, but there are weird little notes in what we’ve seen so far that just make the whole thing seem…kind of off. The character names are alarmingly junior high — “Cypher Raige,” really? — and Will’s cadence of speaking the dialogue seems oddly stilted or affected in the trailers. Still, none of those issues are the biggest question mark when it comes to After Earth.
That question mark: M. Night Shyamalan. Once described as this generation’s Alfred Hitchcock after The Sixth Sense hit theaters, Shyamalan has spiraled downwards through movies so bad I’ve sometimes wondered if this whole thing is some elaborate bit of performance art. And yet each time he releases another film, a part of me is hoping he’ll finally sort himself out and once again live up to the promise he once showed. I have no idea if After Earth will be the movie that finally grants him a comeback — the trailers aren’t encouraging — but I genuinely do hope After Earth proves me wrong. Most of the movie’s marketing has kept Shyamalan’s name hidden at best…the guy could really use a win.
Here’s what’s new This Week in Science Fiction!
Revolution (NBC, 10:01c/9:01c) — “Children of Men”
Tonight’s the penultimate episode of Revolution, and it sounds like we’re finally going to see the much-ballyhooed Tower where they can theoretically switch the power back on. For all the show’s problems, they did live up to their promise and reveal what caused the blackout. I wonder if they’ve got something similarly unexpected up their sleeves for the final two eps of the season. Could the show enter season two with the power restored worldwide?
RACHEL ENRAGES MONROE WHILE THE REBELS INFILTRATE THE TOWER AND MILES AND MONROE MEET AGAIN – Rachel (Elizabeth Mitchell) and Monroe (David Lyons) battle with more than wits. Meanwhile, Miles (Billy Burke), Charlie (Tracy Spiridakos), Nora (Daniella Alonso) and Aaron (Zak Orth) get inside the Tower but Tom Neville (Giancarlo Esposito) and son Jason (JD Pardo) get shut out. Miles and Monroe once again face-off, this time even more lethally.
AE: Apocalypse Earth (Blu-Ray & DVD)
Asylum Home Entertainment rears its head again, this time with their cheap knock-off of Friday’s After Earth. Hopefully After Earth will prove to be the more entertaining of the two…
Dark Skies (Blu-Ray, DVD, & Digital Download)
If you missed this sci-fi horror flick in theaters, it’s got some solid moments but is still pretty predictable. Might be worth a rental, but I wouldn’t recommend a purchase unless you’re just super into alien abduction tales or Keri Russell.
Doctor Who: Series 7, Part 2 (Blu-Ray, DVD, & Digital Download)
While we’re still letting the season finale’s shocking twist settle in, you can dive back in and rewatch the episodes that led up to it. Thankfully, they were a significant improvement over the first half of the season. And while you’re buying these, you might as well also pick up…
Doctor Who: The Snowmen (Blu-Ray & DVD)
It’s got killer snowmen, Ian McKellen, and a ladder that leads to a TARDIS parked in the clouds.
Fuse (PlayStation 3 & Xbox 360)
The latest from Insomniac Games (Resistance series) is a co-op game following four agents tasked with battling the nefarious Raven Corporation. Players will get to toy around with all manner of fun gadgets, including energy shields, cloaking devices, and black-hole guns.
“Ghost Spin” by Chris Moriarty
Summary via Amazon:
The Age of Man is ending. The UN’s sprawling interstellar empire is failing as its quantum teleportation network collapses, turning once-viable colonies into doomed island outposts. Humanity’s only hope of survival is the Drift: a mysterious region of space where faster-than-light travel—or something far stranger—seems possible. As mercenaries and pirates flock to the Drift, the cold war between the human-led UN and the clone-dominated Syndicates heats up. Whoever controls the Drift will chart the future course of human evolution—and no one wants to be left behind in a universe where the price of failure is extinction.
When the AI called Cohen ventures into the Drift, he dies—allegedly by his own hand—and his consciousness is scattered across the cosmos. Some of his ghosts are still self-aware. Some are insane. And one of them hides a secret worth killing for. Enter Major Catherine Li, Cohen’s human (well, partly human) lover, who embarks on a desperate search to solve the mystery of Cohen’s death—and put him back together. But Li isn’t the only one interested in Cohen’s ghosts. Astrid Avery, a by-the-book UN navy captain, is on the hunt. So is William Llewellyn, a pirate who has one of the ghosts in his head, which is slowly eating him alive. Even the ghosts have their own agendas. And lurking behind them all is a pitiless enemy who will stop at nothing to make sure the dead don’t walk again.
“Gentleman Junkie” by Harlan Ellison
Harlan turns 79 today (Monday), so it’s no surprise to see a reprint from the prolific, controversial writer. “Raw, vital, uncompromising–here are portraits of the lost, the damned, the helpless, trying to get a handle on life. A startling collection of ‘hip’ stories by an impressive young writer, torn from the shadows of the twilight world.”
Weird or What? (Syfy, 9/8c) — “Ancient Mysteries / End of the World”
William Shatner is your guide through tales of ancient artifacts and ways the world might meet its doom.
Doctor Who: Prisoners of Time #5 (IDW Publishing)
The series continues its year-long celebration of each of the Doctors. This issue shines a light on the Fifth Doctor, originally played by Peter Davison.
Jericho Season 4 #3 (IDW Publishing)
Jericho continues its story in the fourth season it never got on television. If only all our canceled favorites got such treatment.
John Smith’s dominance in Jericho continues as his plans for the ASA begin to take shape. With Hawkins imprisoned, Jake is left to deal with the duplicitous Smith on his own, and finds himself having to risk everything in order to carry out a secret agenda.
Meanwhile, ASA mole Palmer ingratiates himself with Major Beck, dangling the perfect bait in the hopes that Beck will grow to trust him-and tell him everything. But while tensions grow high in Jericho, danger pervades beyond it. Little does Hawkins know, his worst nightmares are about to come true when Allison is thrust into grave jeopardy.
Lego Star Wars: The Yoda Chronicles (Cartoon Network, 8/7c)
‘The Phantom Clone,’ the first installment of a three-part series written by longtime Simpsons producer Michael Price. In the humorous, kid-friendly adventure the legendary Jedi master takes a group of Padawans on a mission to stop Darth Sidious, along the way encountering iconic Star Wars characters, including C-3PO, General Grievous and Admiral ‘It’s a Trap!’ Ackbar. Billy Dee Williams, who played Lando Calrissian in The Empire Strikes Back, has a surprising role in the episode.
MythBusters (Discovery, 9/8c) — “Battle of the Sexes, Round 2”
This time around the ‘Busters are testing myths involving asking for directions and parallel parking. What about the whole toilet seat up/down thing?
Star Trek #21 (IDW Publishing)
The official, in-canon comic had been focusing on the origins of the Enterprise crew, but now it’s moving forward again, picking up in the aftermath of Star Trek Into Darkness.
Da Vinci’s Demons (Starz, 9/8c) — “The Hierophant”
Leonardo sneaks into the Vatican like a boss. A boss who figures out how to construct an makeshift diving suit and sneak in through the sewers.
In order to gain entrance to the Vatican, Leonardo must somehow travel through the sewers, underwater. Once inside, he not only encounters the mysterious prisoner, but also comes face to face with Sixtus IV. Meanwhile, back in Florence, Giuliano unmasks the traitor who has been spying for Rome.
Space Warriors (Hallmark, 8/7c)
It’s on the Hallmark Channel, which means I would only see it if my remote were broken and the cable box was stuck on the Hallmark Channel. Jokes aside, though, this sounds like it could be cool if you’ve got a budding scientists/astronaut in your household.
The son of a retired NASA astronaut who lived on the International Space Station, makes his dreams of traveling to outer space come true when he competes to win a seat on the next space shuttle in this spectacular real-life look into the world of Space Camp.
Orphan Black (BBC America, 9/8c) — “Endless Forms Most Beautiful”
This show has been one of the best surprises of the season. Hopefully tonight’s finale will features some twists that leave our jaws dropped until the show returns for its second season next year. “Sarah’s last chance to bring her nemesis back to sanity slips away as Art intervenes to get answers of his own.”
Wizards vs. Aliens (The Hub, 7/6c)
This kid’s show comes from former Doctor Who showrunner Russell T Davies. Might be a good way to get your kids into Who if they aren’t already. Get them hooked on this (assuming it’s good), then use it as a gateway drug into that sweet, sweet Doctor Who fix. Seriously, though, I can quit any time.
Kicking off with an action-packed two-part episode, the series follows Tom Clarke (Haran), a 16-year-old teenager who’s hiding a secret — he’s a wizard. Bound by secrecy to never reveal his powers, Tom confides in his best friend Benny Sherwood (Ascott) and together they embark on a dark crusade to save the world against Nekross, an alien race determined to drain the world of magic. Mentored by his enchanted grandmother (Annette Badland, Doctor Who), Tom must use his growing powers on an evil force he never imagined existed until now.